Outdoor Articles

Specifications On Your Trap Shotgun

by Pursue The Outdoors on November 30th, 1999 in Trap Shooting

What are the main critical or most important features to have installed on your trap shotgun? When you attend gun club shoots, and even the registered tournament shoots, we see many gizmos dangling on the guns. Are they important? Some are, some are not. Let’s find out what is right for you!

Now that you know which type of shotgun you should buy that is right for you, here’s the features you need consider.

  1. Adjustable comb is a must unless you have had your stock custom made, bent or formed to your body dimensions. So, don’t buy a gun unless you can set the cast on, cast off, and height. It’s one or the other… custom fit or adjustable. If your gun has neither you will not be shooting well no matter how much you practice because the gun will not fit you. Gun fit is critical, critical, critical!
  2. Removable chokes are optional, but handy. What if, just what if you pay $7,000 for a gun and discover the hard way… the pattern and core centering is horrible? If shell brand selection does not solve the problem, you are stuck with it. Taking your barrel to a specialist can solve the problem, but at great delay and cost to get it right. So pattern check the gun before you buy it and shoot some targets with it to make sure it works in the real world. Removable chokes give you incredible control and options to easy fix the problems. Not everyone can afford custom barrels.
  3. Adjustable butt to set cant, gun fit and length of pull. All important to insure proper gun mount and eye alignment along the rib and the length of pull, if properly set, will enhance swing balance dynamics; reduce recoil and further enhance pointability on the visual aspect.
  4. A high rib will do you wonders, and if adjustable will create miracles! Way too many shooters are not shooting adjustable rib guns and they should be. It is true once you are proficient with a gun you never need to adjust your point of impact (POI), but what if you are not so proficient, yet? What are you going to do shim and re-shim the stock, keep fiddling with comb height that does nothing but give your cheek more of a beating from recoil? The adjustable high rib gun is an important factor to consider.

Features of the Adjustable High Rib Gun

  • You can adjust the rib setting to set the point of impact exactly for the game you wish to play. A simple turn of a dial or screw raises or lowers the impact for many reasons you may want to. If you have a O&U and shoot double-trap you can drop the POI to flash-hit that first target and smash the second on a flatter-trending shot path.
  • You can easily make POI adjustments to match the gun to the zone you plan to shoot. In the learning process it requires many adjustment combinations to find that right zone to match your timing of the shot. If targets are running slow and flat? You can drop the POI. Targets flying fast and high? Raise the POI.
  • You earn yardage, you have to learn a new series of sight pictures. With the adjustable rib you simply raise the POI a smidgen and that’s that! The sight pictures and your timing remain the same. The gun does all these corrections for you. That’s the wonder of the adjustable rib… but there is much more…
  • You see the target way much better and sooner with a high rib gun as your eye’s are up and away from the barrel.
  • Your head remains in a straight-line erect stature looking straight ahead concentric to the rib. A low rib gun will require you to crouch down or raise the gun high on the shoulder which throws off swing dynamics, upsets eye to rib alignment and raises the odds of a mismount to unacceptable levels.
  • Recoil is reduced as the bore of the barrel is lowered in direct line with the shoulder. This reduces the tendency to lift your head from the stock overshooting the targets.
  • Your standing stance is correct with no crouching of the upper back or shoulders to hold the gun. This only makes for a better setup and that means more targets hit.
  • Visually distorting heat waves are extraordinarily diminished. The optical illusion effect is abolished.

There are many benefits of a high rib gun, and these benefits are only enhanced further if the rib is adjustable. However, there is a great deficiency of knowledge pertaining to POI, timing and zone shooting. Shooter’s stateside, have not been properly educated on how to fit their guns and shoot high POI guns, adjust timing factors, etc. European shooters understand these important factors simply because these, primarily the English, have not only been shooting shotguns since time began… they have mastered the art of shooting… and I don’t believe we Americans are ever going to take their hard-earned title away. They believe way too heavily on gun fit and shooting instruction, so the average English / European shooter will kick out rears on the trapfield. They know everything! They shoot targets running at 70 m.p.h. while we shoot 40 m.p.h. targets. See the drift? And they do it with 7/8 oz of shot… so let’s not think we can measure up to those standards anytime soon. Fact is, our trap shooting game is child’s play to them. Gosh, they invented trap shooting and sporting clays, and games we never even heard of or shoot over here. And, to top it off… they deeply love the O&U shotgun. A thought to ponder.

Getting Back to Features

What more gizmos do you need on your trap gun? Not much more. All the rest is fine-tuning.

  • Fluorescent sight beads are easily glued on with silicone rubber (magnets are not reliable as the sight will shift or fly off the rib). These sight beads are great learning tools and more. You can see the target angle immediately as it passes by the barrel and you can, with great ease, learn sight pictures and get that bead where it should be regardless of lighting condition or background interference.
  • Barrel weight may be necessary if the gun is too lively (though you can compensate by shifting your forearm grip further toward the muzzle end of the stock to kill hyperactive guns). As a general rule, your gun should be about 8 to 9 pounds for trapshooting. Any heavier and the swing is smooth but you can’t break the inertia unless you have very powerful muscles or use a moving gun technique. A gun that is too heavy will start slow allowing the target to escape the zone and overshoot the target as heavy guns tend to rise higher when swung because your muscles are stiffer just to hold the darn thing up. If the gun is too light you gain too much control and pointing errors increase. The gun moves too fast and becomes unstable and difficult to stay on the target’s true flight path.
  • Release or pull trigger? That’s a big subject. Just shoot a pull trigger unless you develop serious flinching problems. The release trigger is not a cure-all but it does work. Before you quit the sport due to low scores and flinching read my book “Trap Shooting Secrets.” It will break you out of slumps and many other troublesome thorns in the flesh. The book also reveals what a flinch is, and it’s not caused by recoil as you think it is, but shooting out of time with one’s inner time clock.
  • Ported barrels are great to have as it will reduce a tad of muzzle rise and some felt recoil, but it has positive effects on the shotstring and eases the punishment to lead pellets prior to entering the choke, or final squeeze if your gun has no choke.
  • Recoil reduction device is a must for many shooters, but not all shooters need or want them. Overall, it is best to have one installed because way too many targets are missed, and shooters rarely admit, head-lifting ever so slightly from the comb. Most shooters don’t even know they are doing it even when it happens because it is a unconscious reaction! But if you watch shooters miss, you will see it happening, allot. Tell a 27-yard shooter s/he lifted their head and they will likely cuss at you in their attempt of self-denial.
  • Consider buying a trap shotgun with Back-bored (another term for Over-bored) barrels and lengthened Forcing Cones. This reduces felt recoil and produces tighter shotstring patterns. If you can’t get both, at least opt for the Over-bored barrel. Chrome-lined barrels is a great feature to avoid pitting, wad friction scuffing and makes cleaning a quick task.
  • The rib should have a wide scored face to contrast the sight bead.

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